There are more people in the UK that identify as introverted rather than extroverted. According to a YouGov study, half of Britons consider themselves introverts, 9% believe they are ‘very introverted’ and only 42% classify themselves as extrovert.
While it is common for many people to relate to both categories, introverts tend to feel energised after spending time alone. They often think before they act, learn through observation, have good listening skills and reflect before making decisions.
Extroverts, on the other hand, typically feel energised after socialising. They tend to quickly make decisions, have strong communication skills, speak more than they listen and enjoy being in the limelight.
As the quieter of the two (due to listening and reflecting more than speaking), introverts can have less visibility at work. This means that they are more likely to miss out on recognition and promotional opportunities.
Gallup and Workhuman conducted a study on recognition with over 7,500 US employees. Only 26% of people in the study felt that they receive similar recognition as other team members with similar performance levels.
In the publication PA Life, our CEO Thom Dennis shares how good visibility positively impacts engagement, interaction, team cohesion and personal work identity. If people do not feel visible or recognised, they likely do not feel valued. This can lead to an overall detachment from work as well as poor workplace satisfaction.
How leaders can enable introverts to excel:
Analyse how you reward
From a young age, it is ingrained in us that the most confident people excel at public speaking and team communication. Those who are quieter and prefer to listen seemingly appear less self-assured and shy.
In the same way, schools celebrate children who volunteer to read out loud and take on the main characters in a school play, employers often celebrate people who speak up the most in meetings and can happily make impromptu decisions. While these types of extroverted skills greatly benefit business, introverted traits such as listening and critical thinking also help organisations excel.
Introverts, for instance, are known to have a creative edge. It could be argued that innovation can come from reflection and solitude which introverts usually prefer. In a study, roughly 60% of CEOs listed creativity as the most important leadership quality.
Pay attention to what tasks feel meaningful to your employees. Consider the different ways you can reward this work, from a private word in-person, to email and public recognition.
Do not rely on team meetings for communication
It has recently been reported that meeting fatigue is on the rise. In large group meetings, introverts can be perceived as less visible if they are not as talkative as their extrovert team members.
As a manager, ask your team members individually how they would prefer to communicate. Not everyone thrives in meetings – some people prefer to catch up one-to-one or in smaller groups.
When team meetings do occur, give employees plenty of time to prepare. Introverts generally prefer to process information before providing an opinion. Do not attempt to put an introvert on the spot or expect a quick answer. Instead, leave communication open by asking them to share their input in a couple of days, either vocally or via email.
Create an inclusive, positive culture
Leaders embody the culture of their organisations. If management are open, honest and supportive, this will reflect on how a team interacts and engages. Prioritise building a positive, employee-centric culture that gives people the space to work in a way that suits them. High levels of trust can encourage introverts to find ways to demonstrate visibility.
Despite 65% of executives believing introverts make bad leaders, research shows that this is not the case. Many of the world’s most successful leaders such as Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates are considered introverted.
The assumption that outgoing extroverts make better leaders can lead you to give fewer opportunities to introverted employees. Do not assume that quieter staff members have no interest in taking on a leadership responsibility. Ensure everyone has an equal opportunity to lead and collaborate.
Visibility is not necessarily a sign of productivity or engagement. To boost visibility for introverted employees, create an inclusive culture that welcomes, celebrates and makes the best most conducive space for all different employee strengths. Check in with people and ask about their preferred communication style.